Learn How to Plan for Life Milestones at this Free Seminar in April 2014

will-lawyers-Montgomery-County-PA-life-milestones-for-estate-planningHave you wondered how you’re going to budget for life’s biggest events such as getting married, buying your first home, having a baby, and retiring? Attending this FREE First Financial seminar, you’ll learn how to properly plan and budget for these life milestones and receive information on different options that will work best for you.

At this seminar, attendees will learn:

  • How to plan for life’s milestones (i.e. marriage, house, children, retirement)
  • Life insurance policy options and why they’re important
  • What a living will is and why you need one

Join us on Wednesday, April 30th at 6:00pm for our “Planning for Life Milestones” Seminar, presented by the experts at First Financial, Peter A. Loffredo, Esq., and Daniel Ressegiue of Liberty Mutual Insurance. The event will be held at our Wall Office at 1800 Route 34 North, Building 3, Suite 302 in Wall. Space is limited, so make sure you sign up today!

Register Now!

Peter A. Loffredo, Esq. is an attorney who has been in practice for 22 years. He has a general practice office in Toms River, with a concentration in assisting individuals and businesses in real estate transactions. Other areas of practice include municipal court, landlord-tenant matters, litigation and the preparation of Estate Planning Documents, such as Wills, Powers of Attorney and Living Wills.

Daniel Ressegiue graduated from The Pennsylvania State University majoring in Psychology and business and is currently finishing an MBA at Monmouth University. During his tenure at Liberty Mutual, he has been awarded many awards including National Rookie of the year special recognition, 5 Time “Pacesetter,” Pursuit of Excellence and is a Liberty Lamplighters Club inductee. During his spare time, he enjoys staying active playing soccer, racquetball and partaking in long distance running competitions. He is also a member of Jersey Shore Runners Club, Penn State Alumni Association, as well as SCORE, a nonprofit entity dedicated to the mentoring of small business owners.

See If We Can Beat Your Current Auto Loan Rate by 2%!

2%AutoChallenge3

Take the 2% Challenge and Surf into Savings! Stop into any of our branches, apply online, or give us a call at 866.750.0100, Option 4 – to see if we can beat your current Auto Loan rate by 2%.

This offer is for a limited time only, so get started by taking the challenge today!

*Not all buyers will qualify – actual rate may vary based on credit worthiness. Loan to value ratio up to 125% based on credit score. A First Financial membership is required to obtain an auto loan and is available to anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers, or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties. A $5 deposit in a base savings account is required for credit union membership prior to opening any other account/loan. Cannot be combined with any other offer. **APR = Annual Percentage Rate. Rates as low as 1.99% for terms up to 36 months. For example, a $15,000 auto loan at 1.99% APR with a term of 36 months would have a monthly payment amount of $429.57.

 

4 Ways Scammers Can Steal Your Tax Refund

48d9f43eab68404d0dc0def19d14ba6dIdentity thieves LOVE tax season.

Any thief who has your personal information can easily file a tax return, collect the fraudulent refund and leave you waiting months to get your own refund back and clear up the issue. Unfortunately, it’s only getting worse – last year the IRS launched 1,492 investigations into tax-related identity theft, where criminals used stolen personal information like Social Security numbers to claim fraudulent refunds. That’s up 66% from 2012 and more than 200% from 2011.

Here are some of the ways scammers use to steal your identity and how to avoid becoming a victim.

1. Fake calls from the IRS. Last month, the IRS said a nationwide phone scam had swindled $1 million from consumers in what the agency called “the largest scam of its kind.” As part of the scheme, callers impersonating IRS agents told victims that they owed taxes and needed to pay by wire transfer or a prepaid card. Other scams are carried out through email, and ask for personal information like a Social Security number or birthdate — which can later be used to claim tax refunds.

To protect yourself, be wary of any correspondence from someone claiming to be from the IRS. The agency says it usually reaches out by mail, and it will never ask for personal information via email or phone. If you receive something questionable, reach out to the agency yourself and verify that it’s legitimate.

2. Rogue employees. Be careful about giving out your personal information. Don’t ever give away more personal information than you need to and don’t be hesitate to ask someone why they need any of your personal information.

Some tax preparers could potentially be a scam artist. To avoid being fooled, be wary of any preparers who charge fees based on the size of your refund and never let a preparer ask for the refund to be deposited into an account in their control rather than sent straight to you. To help you detect if you’ve been scammed, be sure to regularly monitor your bank accounts and credit card statements for any suspicious charges.

3. Data breaches. Data breaches occur when hackers break through a company’s privacy walls and access private customer information and scarily enough, it’s becoming increasingly common. Once that information is in a fraudster’s hands, it’s easy for them to file a tax return in your name. If you know or suspect that your information was compromised during a data breach, consider signing up for identity theft protection (see below) or start regularly monitoring your accounts on your own. Be sure to investigate any charges you don’t recognize, no matter how small they are.

Most of the time if someone has a stolen card, the thief will often test it with a small transaction first in order to see if the card is activated, to make a bigger purchase. And because there’s a good chance you will be more susceptible to identity theft after a data breach, make sure to strengthen your passwords utilizing at least 8 characters, including upper- and lower-case letters as well as numbers and special characters (!@#$%).

4. Snail mail. It’s not as common as online identity theft these days, but many fraudsters still use the old-school strategy of stealing mail from mailboxes to piece together the information they need to file a tax return in someone else’s name. Other times, thieves will go as extreme as dumpster diving – it’s a low-tech way to easily retrieve your information, so make sure you ALWAYS shred any personal documents.

Another easy way to protect yourself is to file early. Many scammers are able to get fraudulent refunds because they file before the victim does. If you file first, the IRS will be forced to investigate when a second return from the same person arrives.

LifeSizePennyDon’t wait until it’s too late! Check out First Financial’s ID Theft Protection products – with our Fully Managed Identity Recovery services, you don’t need to worry. A professional Recovery Advocate will do the work on your behalf, based on a plan that you approve. Should you experience an Identity Theft incident, your Recovery Advocate will stick with you all along the way – and will be there for you until your good name is restored.

Our ID Theft Protection options may include some of the following services, based on the package you choose to enroll in: Lost Document Replacement, Credit Bureau Monitoring, Score Tracker, and Three-Generation Family Benefit. To learn more about our ID Theft Protection products, click here and enroll today!*

*Identity Theft insurance underwritten by subsidiaries or affiliates of Chartis Inc. The description herein is a summary and intended for informational purposes only and does not include all terms, conditions and exclusions of the policies described. Please refer to the actual policies for terms, conditions, and exclusions of coverage. Coverage may not be available in all jurisdictions.

Click here to view the article source by Blake Ellis of CNN Money.

10 Things Every Car Owner Should Know About Vehicle Maintenance

bigstock_Vehicle_Safety_Checklist_14549357-460x250It’s hard to understand how much maintenance and upkeep a vehicle takes until you own one. First-time car owners are not always prepared for the many routine problems that they may need to fix, or know what to look for when a problem arises. Want to be a car owner that knows how to keep their vehicles in good operating condition? You should be able to:

  1. Check your Oil. Sure, you can always go to the shop – but knowing where the oil goes into the engine, how it drains, and how to check oil levels can help to prevent problems if you get sub-par oil service, or if the vehicle starts to burn or leak oil as it ages. Start by checking the owner’s manual to confirm the type and amount of oil that’s required, and how often the manufacturer recommends changing the oil for your model of car. Be sure to check your oil after the car is cooled down and use a rag to wipe the dipstick clean so that you will have a clear, accurate reading. The dipstick should have markings on it indicating a range for acceptable oil level.
  2. Change a Flat Tire. The generic guide to changing tires involves simply taking off the lug nuts, jacking up the car and swapping out the hub – but what many owners find is that, for practical use, the standard jack and tools that came with the vehicle may not make this job easy. That’s why it’s a good idea to get actual, first-hand experience before having to fix a flat by the side of the road – familiarize yourself with the tools and process before you find yourself in the real situation.
  3. Replace Windshield Wipers. Changing a wiper blade can be fairly simple, but drivers need to know which specific parts fit their model, and how to correctly attach the wiper blade to its housing. Different models of cars and blades require different types of mountings, so follow the instructions for your particular model, and once installed remember to clean them every so often to extend their life and effectiveness.
  4. Add Wiper Fluid. This is a simple task that can be completed simply by knowing where the wiper fluid reservoir is located in your car. Keep tabs on fluid levels and fill up as needed, because running out of wiper fluid on the road, particularly in winter weather conditions, can cause dangerous windshield streaking, freezing, and loss of visibility.
  5. Locate the battery. Another very good preparation for new car owners involves looking under the hood at where the vehicle battery is placed. Some batteries are easily accessible, while others are blocked by hoses or other interior parts. There may also be bolts holding a battery in place. Vehicle owners should also know the correct procedure for using jumper cables, if you don’t feel comfortable with the process; call a professional – as jump starting a car incorrectly can be dangerous for both you and your car. Each car is different, so check your owner’s manual for their recommendations and special instructions.
  6. Check your Tire Pressure. Ensuring correct tire pressure can help to avoid serious accidents, while also saving fuel. That’s why newer models have tire pressure monitors on the dashboard. Look in the owners’ manual or on the inside of the driver’s side door for the standard tire inflation pressure recommended for your vehicle type. Using an air pressure gauge, press the device evenly onto the valve stem for an accurate reading.
  7. Locate and Assess Belts. Serpentine belts, AC belts and other drive belts are essential for keeping vehicle systems going, but they do wear out over time. Most drivers go to a shop to get belts replaced, but knowing what to look for in terms of looseness, dry rot and other wear can help turn a major roadside emergency into a simpler fix. Knowing where the belts are located and what they look like in good working condition can help you pinpoint problem areas.
  8. Change a Car Light Bulb. Then there’s the array of little lights installed all over the vehicle – as the owner, you’ll probably have to start replacing these, one by one, at some point. Head lights, dome lights, brake lights and even license plate lights each have their own hidden bulbs, and finding all of the right crevices and connections can involve a little research, but are easy fixes that you can do yourself.
  9. Check Coolant Levels. Along with wiper fluid, engine oil and other essential fluids, coolant is something your vehicle needs to run. Sometimes, leaks or other problems can leave a car dry, which can cause major engine issues. Know where the coolant tank is and how to safely check it for proper levels and any cracks or leakage.
  10. Understand the Check Engine Light. A check engine light (CEL) often used to mean serious engine trouble, like a loss of oil. Today, many CEL lights come on because of new engine computer systems that sense a change in fuel-air mix or some other kind of operating ratio. Car owners who really understand what flags a CEL can more effectively handle a situation where this dash light suddenly blinks on during travel. Knowing all of the different options that can trigger this light with your particular car will help you assess the likely causes, and determine your course of action to get it fixed.

All of this research and preparation can help a vehicle owner save money and become better informed about what makes his or her prized set of wheels work properly. Comment below and tell us what other routine items are on your car maintenance checklist!

For more information and how Liberty Mutual Insurance may be able to help you save on your auto and home insurance, feel free to contact our Liberty Mutual representative, Dan Ressegiue or visit our webpage:

AgentDanielRessegiue

Daniel Ressegiue

303 West Main Street | Suite 100
Freehold, NJ 07728
732-308-3868 Ext. 50950
Daniel.Ressegiue@LibertyMutual.com
www.LibertyMutual.com/DanRessegiue

Daniel graduated from The Pennsylvania State University majoring in Psychology and business and is currently finishing an MBA at Monmouth University. During his tenure at Liberty Mutual, he has been awarded many awards including National Rookie of the year special recognition, 5 Time “Pacesetter,” Pursuit of Excellence and is a Liberty Lamplighters Club inductee. During his spare time, he enjoys staying active playing soccer, racquetball and partaking in long distance running competitions.  He is also a member of Jersey Shore Runners Club, Penn State Alumni Association, as well as SCORE, a nonprofit entity dedicated to the mentoring of small business owners. First Financial Federal Credit Union Client #38361

*Click here to view the article source provided by Liberty Mutual Insurance.

Things to Do on a Budget in Monmouth & Ocean Counties this April 2014

family-spring-gardenSpring has FINALLY sprung! Alas, we can put this brutal winter behind us and focus on the warm weather that is here to stay for a while. We know many of you are eager to be able to get out of house and enjoy the many activities that the spring weather brings. Listed below are many free or very inexpensive activities that you and your family and friends can enjoy this April. As always, we welcome you to post a comment with your feedback, we’d love to hear how you liked any of the events we posted!

Tuesday, April 8th: Celebrate dining at the Jersey Shore and the kick off to the 2014 spring/summer season with a glance at signature dishes and new items debuting this season from some of the hottest restaurants in town! Join 94.3 The Point and Driscoll Foods at “Sample the Shore” event being held at The Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel (Asbury Park) from 6pm to 9pm. Admission is just $15 per person or two for $20 and will include sampling from more than 20 participating restaurants. For a list of all participating restaurants, click on the event link above. For more information, call 848-221-8082.

Wednesday, April 9th: The Southern Ocean County Community Foundation will be hosting the 19th Annual “Taste of Southern Ocean County Hunger Relief Dinner and Auction” for the benefit of our local food pantries. Since its inception in 1995, the Taste Dinner has enabled the foundation to distribute more than $550,000. The dinner features fabulous dishes that showcase the talents of local chefs who donate their time and talent to support this cause. The 2014 dinner, Evening in Venice, features flavorful dishes of this romantic paradise that have inspired chefs for centuries. This year the dinner will be held at Sea Oaks Country Club (Little Egg Harbor) from 5:30pm – 10pm and will be transformed into a Venetian splendor! For more information, click on the event link above.

Saturday, April 12th: Bring the entire family to the Searchlight’s Community Egg Hunt (Long Branch). Kids will enjoy carnival games, inflatables, air-brush tattoos, cotton candy, and of course the Easter Bunny will be hopping around! The event will take place from 11am – 1pm and admission is FREE! Parents, be sure to bring a bucket or basket for your kids to collect all their goodies. Also, be sure you bring a camera because there will be lots of photo opportunities. The egg hunt is open to children up to the 6th grade and registration is required – click on the event link above to get started!

In celebration of Earth Month, head on down to the InfoAge Science History Museum (Wall Twp) for an educational and interesting event titled, Observing Earth Beyond Hurricane Sandy.” Learn about the earth’s changing climate, while focusing on the risks and solutions. The event will be held from 2pm – 4pm and is open to the public but it’s encouraged that attendees give a $5 donation to the museum. For more information call 732-280-3000.

Saturday, April 12 & Sunday, April 13th: An all-time favorite of audiences since they first performed in 2000, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz presented by the Company of Dance Arts is a charming and whimsical presentation of this classic tale and will be performing at the Count Basie Theatre (Red Bank) for a limited time! The beautiful lighting and set design, colorful costumes, and exciting choreography combine to make this production one that all will enjoy. The show will begin at 3pm on both days and tickets start at just $20. Bring the whole family for a fun filled day! For more information, call 732-842-9000.

Saturday, April 19th: Join the Allaire Village Easter Bunny and villagers to celebrate the holiday with the 10,000 Easter Egg Hunt! Once you enter through admissions, let the hunt begin – 10,000 eggs will be hidden in the village for children (up to age 12) to hunt for in order to fill their baskets. Don’t forget to bring your basket and start your fun – there will be larger prizes with special tickets hidden in select eggs. Admission opens at 12pm and the hunt begins upon entry. There will also be a homemade Bonnet Contest and a parade that will begin at 2pm in front of the General Store. The event will also include historic children’s games, militia demonstrations, children’s arts and crafts projects, face-painting and open-hearth cooking. Come and join the EGG-cellent fun! For more information, call 732-919-3500.

Friday, April 25th: Go for a run in the Asbury Park & Jersey Shore RunAPalooza! Registration is FREE and is now open for 2014 (click on the event link to register). Participants can sign up for either the Asbury Park Half Marathon or the Jersey Shore 5K. This event is organized by the Jersey Shore Running Club. For more information, call (609) 896-8000.

Saturday, April 26th: The Monmouth County Park System is hosting a FREE Spring Craft Show at Tatum Park (Middletown). Stop by anytime between 9am – 2pm and pick up the perfect homemade item for your garden or home! For more information, call 732-842-4000 ext. 4312.

How about a girls’ afternoon out? The Township of Ocean Historical Museum will hold it’s 10th Annual Spring Tea, which will take place from 2pm - 4pm and seating will begin at 1:30 pm at the West Park Recreation Center (Oakhurst). All food is prepared by museum volunteers and includes: tea sandwiches, breads, desserts and scones with whipped cream, butter and jam along with a variety of teas. There will be a gift auction, a boutique of hand quilted crafts and doll clothes, and entertainment. Prizes will be awarded for a fancy hat contest, so plan on wearing a hat to the event! Tickets must be purchased in advance and are just $25.00 per person - get your tickets today by calling 732-531-2136.

Sunday, April 27th: Looking for a “Sunday Funday” adventure? Why not head down to Bradley Beach for their Spring Restaurant Tour! From 11:30am - 3:30pm, the Bradley Beach Chamber of Commerce will sponsor its Spring Restaurant Tour, featuring delicious samples of signature dishes from participating restaurants. Tickets are $20.00 in advance, and $25.00 the day of the event. For more information, call 732-776-2999.

Spring into fun this month – enjoy!

Business Financial Planning and Budgeting Seminar Summary

DSCN0302Jack Gottlieb, President of the Total Solutions Group, Inc., recently held part two of his interactive and inspirational business seminar series to help attendees put their business ideas on paper and start thinking about the long-term goals they have not only for their businesses, but for themselves. Jack further explained the importance of identifying your business values and goals as well as how you can start digging deeper into the logistics and analytics of your company. It is important to look at the big picture of where money is going, what is profitable and what isn’t – is key in the success of your business.

Check out some of the important information that was covered during the business financial planning and budgeting session of this series:

  • It is imperative that you answer the following questions in order to understand the core of your business. So grab a piece of paper and put your thinking cap on:
    • What is the value you want to create and how are you going to create it?
    • What are your needs vs. your wants?
    • Where is your money coming from and who will make that decision?
    • How are you best utilizing your money?
    • What is your business really about and do you know if you are succeeding?
    • What you insanely passionate about when it comes to your company?
    • What does your business all boil down to? Where is it going and where do you want it to go?
  • Don’t just look at the numbers, look beneath them to see what they mean for your business. Numbers aren’t only associated with money, they mean much more – i.e. customers, sales, marketing, engagement, time, etc.
  • Be SMART when it comes to setting goals: Specific Measure Attainable Relevant Time-Bound
  • There are 5 Cornerstones to every business:
    • 1. Living your core
    • 2. Being relevant
    • 3. Being sustainable
    • 4. Being replicable
    • 5. Being scalable
  • Ask yourself, “What is the REALLY most important goal I’d like to achieve by the end of 2014?”
  • 9 Core Areas of your plan:

DSCN0304

  • You can learn more about a business from what it spends money on, not how much it makes. Great businesses don’t work for money, they have their money working for them. Funding our business and life is the main purpose of money.
  • It’s not about the budget, it’s about the value that money can bring vs. how much it will cost. If it’s worth doing it’s worth measuring!
  • The 5 Levels of Change:
    • 1. Lack of Understanding
    • 2. Creates Uncertainty
    • 3. Leading to Perception
    • 4. Shift in Behavior
    • 5. Performance

Ultimately, in order to truly succeed in business you need to find bigger problems to solve. It’s about making better decisions and mastering your capabilities, not about making money.

DSCN0305Jack Gottlieb is the President of The Total Solutions Group, Inc. a strategic consulting, training and coaching firm committed to driving a sustainable increase to an organization’s results, value proposition and culture. Jack brings 14 years of proven high level success along with the collective capability of his team and advisory board. Jack has also been one of the highest ranked speakers at various state wide SHRM (Society of Human Resource Managers) Annual Conferences as well as the New Jersey Organizational Development Annual Conferences for the past 7 years. Jack also serves on the Executive Board Collegiate Empowerment which is an educational firm committed to driving systemic change and impact for Colleges and Universities. Jack also is actively involved with two universities. The first is Kutztown University where he is one of the key leaders of the College of Business Advisory Board to support their efforts in further development and expansion. The second is with Rider University with their Center for the Development of Leadership Skills.